Imagination should be key to creative heads

It isn’t surprising that Michael Wolff took the title head of imagination at Fourth Room (see News, page 3). It’s an apt moniker for one of design’s more original thinkers, described affectionately by Fourth Room chief executive Piers Schmidt as “the ultimate leaper”. It would, though, be interesting to know what that other visionary Gary Withers, creative head of the consultancy Imagination, thinks of the move.

We can be sure that Wolff isn’t just trying to be different, adopting a title that sounds good, but means nothing. He’s not that kind of guy. Among other great designs, he gave us the Addison goldfish, subject of a legal rumpus with Wolff Olins a year or so ago when it used a similar marque for the British Gas credit card for client Goldbrand. The Addison original was a genuine creative leap; not so the Wolff Olins design, which lost the battle.

Wolff acknowledges that his role at Fourth Room will be different from most of the jobs he’s done before – and that is reflected in the title. Significantly, it won’t be about implementing designs, which is the meat of most consultancies’ offer, culminating on the design side in the title creative director. But wouldn’t it be great if more so-called creative heads saw imagination as key to their jobs?

Meeting the brief is important and the design has to work for client and end user alike. But it doesn’t have to be predictable, born of blinkered minds trying too hard to fit the conventions of a particular market sector. There’s scope out there for a bit of madness.

Souls like Wolff may be rare, but he’s not the only one around. You’ll find as many bright sparks on the client side as in a top creative team and it’s amazing how quickly you can flush them out by playing to their imagination. Have some fun and give it a try.

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